The Urban-Rural Biomonitoring & Assessment Network. A citizen-science project in Hamilton, Ontario.

Wetland Plants

Macrophytes (wetland plants) provide many ecosystem services including climate regulation, nutrient cycling, water storage, and habitat for fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. Macrophytes provide the physical structure of the wetland and release oxygen into the water and sediments through their leaves and stems to be used by other organisms (Croft 2007). Macrophytes are also important in removing contaminants from the water, preventing floods by taking up large amounts of water, and stabilizing our shorelines by holding sediments in place. Macrophytes are an extremely diverse group of plants and different species exist in wetlands of variable water quality conditions (amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, turbidity). Due to this factor, macrophytes are excellent predictors of water quality because any change in water quality will be should be reflected in the plant community composition of the wetland (Croft and Chow-Fraser 2007). For example, common bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris) is an indicator of good water quality, and Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is an indicator of poor water quality.

What can you do to help?

Get involved as an URBAN volunteer with the Volunteer Aquatic Plant Survey (VAPS). This program was piloted in Georgian Bay in 2006-2007 with great success, and we’ve decided to implement it in the Hamilton Region. Since wetland plants are sensitive to changes in water quality, it is important to limit excess inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen. Get involved in local issues such as sewage treatment plant upgrades and related infrastructure issues related to water output into natural systems.


Marsh plant surveys require arranging your own travel to a wetland assigned by the Coordinator, but we will try to make them convenient for the participant. Monitoring marsh plants requires attending the annual spring workshop for training. Each survey should take no more than an hour or two. Each survey location should be visited once per year between July 15 and August 15. These surveys involve canoeing or wading through the wetland using chest waders or rubber boots to survey the different plant communities (submergent, floating, and emergent vegetation).

Aquatic plants can be grouped in the following categories. Please select the category to view plants of that type.

  • Emergents: leaves primarily emergent from the water
  • Floating: leaves primarily floating on water
  • Submergents: leaves primarily submerged under the water

Emergent Plants

Utricularia cornuta (Horned bladderwort)

  • horned_bladderwort2
  • horned_bladderwort

Typha angustifolia (Narrow-leaf cattail)

  • TYAN1

Typha xglauca (Hybrid cattail)

  • TYXG1

Typha latifolia (Common cattail)

  • TYLA1

Sparganium eurycarpum (Giant burreed)

  • SPEU1

Schoenoplectus validus (Softstem bulrush)

  • SCVA1

Scirpus subterminalis (Water bulrush)

  • SCSU2
  • SCSU1

Schoenoplectus americana (3-square bulrush)

  • SCAM2
  • SCAM1

Schoenoplectus acutus (Hardstem bulrush)

  • SCAC2
  • SCAC1

Sagittaria cuneata (Northern/small arrowhead)

  • SGCU1

Sagittaria latifolia (Common arrowhead)

  • SGLA3
  • SGLA1

Pontederia cordata (Pickerel Weed)

  • POCO3
  • POCO1

Eleocharis acicularis (Needle spikerush)

  • ELAC1
  • ELAC2

Floating Plants

Wolffia spp. (Watermeal spp.)

  • wolfia_amongst_duckweeds
  • wolffia
  • wolffia_sciam

Spirodela polyrrhiza (Greater duckweed)

  • giantduckweed
  • gduckweed

Sparganium fluctans (Floating burreed)

  • SPFL3
  • SPFL2
  • SPFL1

Potamogeton natans (Broad-leaved pondweed)

  • PONA1
  • PONA3
  • PONA2

Polygonum amphibium (Water smartweed)

  • PLAM2
  • PLAM1

Pistia stratiotes (Water lettuce)

  • PIST2
  • PIST1

Nymphoides cordata (Little floating heart)

  • NYCO2
  • NYCO1

Nymphaea odorata (Fragrant water lily (white))

  • NYOD2
  • NYOD1

Nuphar variegata (Common yellow pond lily)

  • NUVA2
  • NUVA1

Lemna trisulca (Ivy duckweed)

  • lemtri_aspect01
  • lemnatris

Lemna minor (Lesser duckweed)

  • lemnaminor2
  • lemnaminor

*Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (European frogbit)

  • HYMO

Eichhornia crassipes (Water hyacinth)

  • EICR

Brasenia schreberi (Water shield)

  • BRSC2
  • BRSC1

Submergent Plants

Vallisneria americana (Tape grass/ eel grass/ water celery)

  • VAAM2
  • VAAM1

Utricularia vulgaris (Common bladderwort)

  • UTVU2
  • UTVU1

Stuckenia pectinatus (Sago pondweed)

  • STPE2
  • STPE1

Sagittaria graminea (Grassy arrowhead)

  • SGGR2
  • SGGR1

Scirpus subterminalis (Water bulrush)

  • SCSU2
  • SCSU1

Potamogeton zosteriformis (Flat-stemmed pondweed)

  • POZO2
  • POZO1

Potamogeton vaseyi (Vasey’s pondweed)

  • potamogetonvasey
  • potamogenvas1

Potamogeton robbinsii (Fern-leaf pondweed)

  • PORO2
  • PORO1

Potamogeton richardsonii (Clasping-leaved pondweed)

  • PORI2
  • PORI1

Potamogeton spirillus (Northern snailseed pondweed)

  • POSR2
  • POSR1

Potamogeton pusillus (Slender pondweed)

  • POPU2
  • POPU1

Potamogeton obtusifolius (Bluntleaf pondweed)

  • potobt_leaves01gf400
  • potobt_aspect01gf400

Potamogeton gramineus (Variable pondweed)

  • POGR2
  • POGR1

Potamogeton epihydrus (Ribbon-leaf pondweed)

  • POEP2
  • POEP1

Potamogeton crispus (Curly-leaf pondweed)

  • POCR1

Potamogeton amplifolius (Large-leaved pondweed)

  • POAM2
  • POAM1

Nitella spp. (Stonewort)

  • NISP1

Najas flexilis (Slender water nymph)

  • NAFL2
  • NAFL1

Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian water milfoil)

  • MYSC2
  • MYSC1

Myriophyllum sibiricum (Common water milfoil)

  • MYSI3
  • MYSI2
  • MYSI1

Lobelia dortmanna (Water lobelia)

  • LODO1

Freshwater sponges

  • SPON2
  • SPON1

Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort)

  • ERAQ2
  • ERAQ1

Elodea canadensis (Common Canadian waterweed)

  • ELCA2
  • ELCA1

Isoetes spp. (Quillwort)

  • ISSP2
  • ISSP1

Chara spp. (Muskgrass)

  • CHSP
  • CHSP1

Ceratophyllum demersum (Coontail)

  • CEDE1

Bidens beckii (Beck’s marsh marigold)

  • BIBE2
  • BIBE1

URBAN is a citizen science monitoring program for the City of Hamilton, enabling you to experience and contribute to the preservation of wildlife and natural areas within and around the city.